“Go For Broke!”
That was the motto of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, which fought in the battlefields of Europe during World War II. Serving in that unit, 69 years ago, was Mas Takahashi.
Takahashi and his son Scott Takahashi made an appearance at the National Training Center and Fort Irwin Asian Pacific American Heritage celebration, May 8.
The 442nd RCT’s motto was a symbol of its members’ desire to outfight their enemies. According to the Go For Broke National Education Center, “Go for Broke” essentially means risking everything on one great effort to win big. The Soldiers of the 442nd RCT needed to win big. They were Nisei American-born sons of Japanese immigrants and they fought two wars: the Germans in Europe and prejudice in America.
In 1944, Mas Takahashi had been living at the Manzanar Internment Camp in California, with thousands of other Japanese Americans during WWII, when he was drafted into the 442nd RCT. He served as a Browning Automatic Rifleman in Italy, France and Germany and fought in the Champaign Campaign and at Gothic Line.
Mas Takahashi’s unit became the most decorated unit for its size and length of service in the history of American warfare, according to Go For Broke National Education Center. Approximately 14,000 men served in the 442nd RCT, ultimately earning 9,486 Purple Hearts. The unit was awarded an unprecedented eight Presidential Unit Citations and 21 of its members were awarded Medals of Honor. Members of the 442nd RCT received 18,143 awards.
When Mas Takahashi spoke at the ceremony he mentioned that people of Asian ancestry have been here since the early 1800’s and today participate in every facet of life from government and medicine to the music industry.
“And I’m just a small part of it,” Mas Takahashi said. “So, I want to thank all of you for inviting us here.”
Scott Takahashi spoke about the differences of his childhood and that of his older generations. Scott witnessed some discrimination incidents, but it did not compare to what his father and grandfather lived through, he said.
“I believe, in most cultures, parents want to make a better life for their children and in the Japanese American culture, our parents work very hard for that,” Scott said. “But they also preach honor, hard work, and education.”
Scott served with the Army in Vietnam and earned a Bronze Star with a valor device.
“If it weren’t for my father’s generation, I would have probably been in a segregated unit,” he said.
It’s a bright future for the U.S. military, Scott said.